Cran-Apple Crunch Chicken Salad with Creamy Maple Dressing

Cran-Apple Crunch Chicken Salad with Creamy Maple Dressing

Sunflower seeds offer a nutritious, mayo-free and dairy-free base to the rich dressing for this elegant winter salad. I prefer to serve the dressing on the side, to create a wonderful lunch or dinner presentation. For a lighter side salad that will serve six, simply omit the chicken. Photo: Chris Gonzaga

Makes: 4 servings
Free of: gluten and all top allergens


Creamy Maple Dressing

  • 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seed kernels, preferably roasted (see how to safely roast seeds here)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2-4 tbsp plain or unsweetened milk alternative (rice, coconut or flax)
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 2 cups sliced green cabbage
  • 2 cups sliced purple cabbage
  • 2 cups torn green lettuce
  • 1 large apple or 2 small ones, diced
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3-4 cups cooked boneless skinless chicken breast or turkey
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place sunflower seeds in a spice grinder or food processor and process until powdered.
  2. Move ground sunflower seeds to a blender and add other dressing ingredients (use 2 tablespoons of milk alternative). Blend until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes.
  3. To help the dressing thicken and build flavor, chill it in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  4. If needed to reach desired consistency, whisk in up to 2 tablespoons additional milk alternative.
  5. To create the salad, plate the cabbages and lettuce. Top with apple, chicken and cranberries. Serve dressing and black pepper on the side. For a tossed version, place all salad ingredients in a large serving bowl, drizzle with the dressing, add black pepper to taste and toss to evenly coat.

Easy Pan-Fried Chicken

For even cooking, I prefer to pound the thick part of each chicken breast with a meat mallet until the entire breast is roughly consistent in thickness, but this is optional.

  1. Sprinkle both sides of the breasts with salt and pepper, and optionally dust with cornstarch or potato starch.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 1 minute, or until lightly browned on the other side. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes. Do not lift the lid.
  3. Keep covered, remove from heat, and let the chicken sit in the warm pan for 10 minutes.
  4. Slice to serve over salad.

is a contributing editor to Allergic Living magazine and the author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living, and founder of